Would Training/Seminar/Course Increase the Value? (1)

We have seen lots of resumes or CVs which contain attended trainings; some of which even take one page alone. Wow…..

Can we increase our selling point by listing down all trainings we have attended? Possibly to some extent.

Let’s say I were a college student (or just graduated) and lack of true work experience. From readers’ point of view, would putting the attended trainings or seminars on resume increase my value? Yes, this is to show my eagerness and enthusiasm (I’ve done the homework to prepare myself to come to the real world). The more relevant the trainings/seminars to the work fields I plan get into, the better.

Let’s say I were an accountant with 10 years of experience. I joined a seminar on sophisticated relevant financial report for CEO or took advanced accounting system training. Would disclosing both or any of them in resume increase my value? Hard to say; readers may think, “He has been in the field for 10 years, and he still does not know how to put in order the relevant financial report for CEO? Where has he been?”

Let’s say I were an engineer with 10 years of experience. I recently took a course to earn one engineering certification. Is it worth disclosing? It depends on which value to disclose. If we put the certification earned in resume, it has value. If we write the course taken, it does not. Kindly be noted that in many countries, people attending seminar or training will earn some type of completion certificate. The engineering certification mentioned earlier is not meant to be similar to this kind of completion certificate.

Personal Characteristics

Willingness to accept responsibility, hard-worker, analytical thinker, customer-focused, smart, easy-going….etc.

We can put all such characteristics in resume or cover letter, but unfortunately they may not provide us higher selling point. In fact, the more we write, the more readers will distrust.

It’s acceptable to include such personal jargons but only to some extent. Otherwise, we’re assumed not being honest or not knowing well ourselves.

Always avoid putting too many personal characteristics words in our resume. Three or four words should be enough, and each should be supported with at least one content in the resume or it is a personal trait summary derived from some contents in the resume.

For example: “Customer-focused and experienced in dealing with cross-functional departments and external parties.”

Owner of this statement dealt with multi-discipline departments as part of his work. He might not put under Responsibilities (probably because it was not an independent responsibility but simply one of requirements to do the job) or under Accomplishment (probably because he did not have positive result associated with working together with various departments). Regardless of any reason, he wanted to emphasize his priceless capabilities of how he best served internal customers or how he encountered any difficulty or project involving various departments. He was more than ready to properly respond to such question as “Please explain in brief how you consider yourself having customer-oriented mind-set.”

Accomplishment vs. Responsibility (2)

Given the previous example, it’s obvious that everybody can or should have accomplishment; from graduate or entry-level to professional in the top position.

Pay attention when disclosing accomplishment:

  1. Never take credit for someone’s or team’s accomplishment. Be honest. If you’re part of the team, say it clearly.
  2. Always come together with positive result(s). One sentence of accomplishment without positive result(s) is considered responsibility, non-understandable or inappropriate. It’s like demonstrating a sports car without describing how many seconds it takes to reach 100 km per hour.
  3. Never boost the positive result(s) – always be honest. Quantifiable result is preferred but not definitely absolute value.
  4. Put positive result(s) before action that triggers such result. Positive result triggers readers’ interest in knowing how to make it.
  5. Because accomplishment has higher selling point, it should be placed before responsibilities in a resume. The higher the position, the more accomplishments readers expect to see, the higher chance to be called for an interview.

Accomplishment vs. Responsibility (1)

Busy..busy..busy..vacation..and before getting busy again, like to share some more knowledge.

Without looking at a dictionary to search for the definition, what’s major difference of Accomplishment (also called Achievement) and Responsibility?

Let’s put this way:

When one has a job, he should have responsibilities attached to his position. Therefore, everybody has his own responsibilities as long as he has a job. The higher the position, the more sophisticated the responsibilities, yet those cannot be considered accomplishments.

If someone does beyond his responsibilities, then it’s called accomplishment. Whether or not he later may earn additional bonus because of making such accomplishment is different story. Accomplishment is not part of daily job, and we also feel more or stronger self-satisfaction.

Lots of candidates, even those with long list of complicated/refined responsibilities, were not able to respond when asked for accomplishments. Then, from employers’ perspective, they were not different at all from others applying for the same position.

One secretary ever raised some concern during the seminar, “I work everyday from 8 to 5 doing the same routine secretarial job. My boss always makes me busy because he leads 200 employees ….. I don’t think I have made some accomplishment at all, and I don’t even have time to think how to make one accomplishment in the future.”

We asked her to list down on a piece of paper what she did everyday. Later, we asked her again to write down on another piece of paper what she has done non-regularly or any items other than those listed on the first paper. Finally, we asked her to choose which one (or two) of the non-regular items she felt greatest self-satisfaction and to provide the reason. She came up with one small filing project; she arranged all documents in such a way and created a complete list in excel with automatic link to individual details. That simple but outstanding accomplishment makes her different from other secretaries!

Cover Letter (2)

Recall the two main purposes of cover letter, that is:

  1. Trigger reader’s curiosity or enthusiasm to read more candidates’ qualities and experiences; which is basically to read our resume with more care and attention.
  2. Keep such in reader’s mind longer. We may (and I have seen lots of candidates doing so) restate the key words in cover letter (copy from resume and paste the key words to cover letter). Will it help? To some extent, it may; however, again we just talk about us.

Then, how to stand on employers’ feet? How to assure prospective employers we’re precisely the right candidate for position and able to contribute (not solely a ‘contribution’ word/promise that we put on resume or cover letter)?

The answer is How to Create a Link on what employers want from us and what we’ve been through.

What employers want from us can be obtained from job descriptions, responsibilities or work requirements published on internet, newspapers and other sources. If we’re the right candidates, we then should be able to rightly connect such advertised responsibilities to our experiences or, even better, our past accomplishments. Otherwise, we should not expect readers will automatically come up with such link ….. for us.

Let’s take one example of one graduate candidate: “Familiarity with AutoCAD, which is required capability for the position with GIS exposure.”

One job requirement is to work with GIS; and the candidate knows very well that it requires skills in AutoCAD software, in which he possesses.

Let’s take another example of more-experienced candidate: “Standardized specific codes and valuation process resulting in increase in accuracy and two hours reduction of monthly tax obligation calculation; one required expertise in line with your tax compliance process responsibility.”

Here the candidate applies his one accomplishment (instead of responsibility) into the link – we’ll later talk about responsibility vs. accomplishment in separate subject.

Well… we put ourselves in employers’ perspectives (we seem standing on their behalf) and at the same time we boost ourselves by creating self-explanatory link. Quite simple, right? It is indeed.

Where to best include the links in cover letter? We may have the second paragraph modified in such a way to include two-three links in bullet format. We need to be aware of that we may not simply jump to the bullet-format links; we should create one sentence (last sentence of the first paragraph or first sentence of the second paragraph) as an introduction of how you want readers to perceive the links; otherwise, readers may get lost.

Cover Letter (1)

Quite often someone uses his standard cover letter or, worse, copies other’s cover letter and simply changes the addressee, name of position and source. Unfortunately, such process simplification may neglect an opportunity to be ‘seen’. Sending a cover letter along with resume has many purposes; some of which are to trigger reader’s curiosity or enthusiasm to read more candidates’ qualities and experiences and to keep such in reader’s mind longer.

Like resume, cover letter requires tailoring. For generalization, in the following paragraphs we will share some helpful hints to build powerful cover letter.

How many paragraphs in a cover letter?

3 or 4 paragraphs should be enough. The first paragraph, consisting two or three short sentences, is for introduction such as showing interest in the position and name of position. Because employer may use different channels at the same time to advertise one opening position, it may also be useful to share where you know about the opening position.

The second paragraph is for your experience, current position, your school, MBA, title, etc.

The third or fourth paragraph is for closing statement. Share with readers why we’re interested in, why we want to be considered, how the next process will be, a promise we will contribute, etc. Lots of nice, polite and professional-outlook statements can be composed of.

What seems to be a problem?

All paragraphs talk about us! Nothing talks about the company we’re applying to, and nothing helps readers make decision whether we’re truly the right person for position.

We may say, “Please look my experience, my title, or the company I’ve been…”. Prospective employers may reply, “Well…those are all history, and may not guarantee same things will occur.”  

Let us put our effort in helping prospective employers….. to be continued.

Education or Work Experience – Which Comes First?

Should we attach our photo to resume? It is a dilemma situation whether or not to attach a photo, and it will take a long discussion to soundly address such seemingly simple question. To properly value the importance, let’s set back a while by disclosing some pros and cons: 

Pros:

  • It can potentially upgrade our value if the employer likes us; little chance, however.
  • Good-looking appearance is one of the job requirements.

Cons:

  • Preliminary biased conclusion by looking at our picture could put us unfavorably.
  • Unfavorable personal preference quite often taking into account in the hiring process makes our chance for an interview get smaller.As you may see, a straight answer is hard to be drawn simply because we’re in Indonesia. In western-developed countries such as US, an employer asking for an applicant’s photo or the applicant putting his/her photo on resume can be considered unethical and against the ethical law of equal opportunity. What about in Indonesia? No such law has been in existence. However, there exist some useful guidelines as follows.

First, do we want to be valued in professional and/or non-professional ways?

  • I want to be valued in a professional way because I want to be considered a true professional. Please don’t put a colorful photo. A black and white 3 X 4 sized photo with low color density should be enough.
  • I want to also be considered in a non-professional way because I do not have enough the appropriate skills to offer and because my face is so charming, which is one of the requirement of the job I’m currently pursuing. Please then put a colorful photo with high color density.

Second, do we apply to a bona fide multinational company /headhunter or non-bona fide multinational / local company? If the former, please put a black and white 3 X 4 sized photo. If the latter, please put a colorful photo. All are with low color/black & white density.

Finally, what if we do not attach any photo? It should be acceptable as long as the advertised vacancy does not explicitly state such requirement. What if the requirement states so but we still prefer not to attach to? It finally comes back to us whether or not we believe attaching photo is more appropriate.